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Svalbard Explorer June 10th - 17th 2013

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Recently we have had a lot of inquiries for the remaining cabins so here is the current status:
  • 1 female needed to complete a Quad - £3400 + £698 flights, hotel, transfers

  • 1 male to share a Quad - £3400 + £698 flights, hotel, transfers


Andy has been in love with Svalbard ever since the first time he went there some 15 years ago. The combination of stunning Arctic scenery, pack ice, polar bears, walrus and incredible bird life
make it one of the true wonders of the world. Usually he travels on the 12 berth M/S Stockholm but many travellers have asked us to consider a slightly larger vessel that would reduce the price, have a more general itinerary but still retaining Andy as the expedition leader.
So we have decided to charter the M/S Quest, a much newer ship than the M/S Stockholm that was refitted in 2005. It is managed by the same company and is a purpose built expedition ship that takes 50 clients, two expedition leaders (Andy and an Arctic specialist), 4 guides and assorted crew. It's a wonderful, comfortable ship that has a very small ship feel and will take us to places that other ships can only dream of seeing.

Few people venture to the far north of our planet and fewer still live there. Just 500 miles from the North Pole yet within easy reach from the UK, Svalbard is a truly awe inspiring rugged archipelago of mountains, ice cap and tundra; our gateway to the frozen planet. During the winter it remains dark for many months yet begins to open up to visitors in June as the pack ice yields its icy grip. There will be 24 hour daylight and the midnight sun to experience, the sun never setting during this voyage. This time is the awakening of polar bears and their need to feed on seals; the time of the return of whales as well as many bird species and the period when you will find walrus lazily enjoying the gently warming sun out on the pack ice. Our special charter will be an adventure into this raw natural world in search of its wildlife and some of the special places that are highlights of these islands.

Svalbard Explorer 2013 is aimed at naturalists, bird watchers and photographers.   Together we will experience one of the frontiers of planet Earth. We shall be using M/S Quest a modern vessel carrying 50 passengers, not a 100+ mass tourism cruise ship. It's large enough to cover the ocean miles in a relatively short space of time whilst being intimate enough for all on board to experience the friendly nature of a relaxed cruise with Andy and his Swedish expert colleagues.

Trip Overview

There is no set itinerary! The route taken will be unique to this cruise and wholly dependent on ice conditions at sea. However, there is a general intent to visit the fascinating Russian mining settlement of Barentsburg, a short distance from Longyearbyen, before heading up the fjords on the west side of Spitsbergen. Here the mountains are at their most dramatic with glaciers cutting through them and calving azure icebergs into the deep fjords. The fjords will be especially beautiful at this time of the year with snow capped mountains and drift ice in front of the glaciers; polar bears and walrus can be seen here. We will also cruise along the side of the pack ice looking for polar bears and enjoying the incredible feeling of wilderness that only Svalbard can provide. It is expected that with this fast ship we can enter the Hinlopen Strait to find breeding Brunnich's guillmots with their attendant Arctic foxes and discover the mind-blowing beauty of the world's third largest icecap, Austfonna. This area is a real haven for polar bears too.

This departure is timed to get the best of early season Svalbard, the landscape will still be snow covered and the pack ice should bring the polar bears far south. The fjords will be beautiful and the bird life will have returned to the cliffs. The M/S Quest is a much better alternative than the larger ships that cruise these waters as you will have a friendly Swedish crew, a lower viewing angle and a determination to go to places where these big ships cannot.

The M/S Quest

The M/S Quest is a wonderful ship, this is why we think you should travel on her:
  • Perfect cruise for first timers to Svalbard looking for a relaxing mixed interest wildlife, landscape and photography trip in the Arctic
  • Small ship feel with only 50 passengers on board
  • Scandinavian style and comfort
  • Easy access onto Zodiacs
  • Fast and efficient
  • An English speaking, knowledgeable guide and 10 passengers to each Zodiac
  • Lower viewing angles than larger ships, access to the bow & bridge and panoramic observation deck
  • Determination to go where larger ships only dream of seeing
  • Ideal for those short on time and funds yet who must experience this magical land in one of the best ways
  • A fun, small ship atmosphere on board and the chance to meet new friends
  • Expedition leaders - Andy Rouse and an expert Swedish polar guide plus 4 other guides

The M/S Quest is our perfect choice for the Svalbard Explorer cruise. The ship was built in Denmark in 1992 to navigate the icy waters of the west coast of Greenland. In 2004/2005 she was completely refurbished and has now a career as a small and comfortable expedition ship taking a maximum of 53 passengers in 26 cabins, all with sea-view and private facilities. The vessel is a perfect expedition ship with an easy accessible Zodiac gangway, through a hatch in the hull you just take one step and you are in the Zodiac. It also features full access to the bow and outer decks 360 degrees around the ship for convenient scenery and wildlife watching and a comfortable panorama lounge and bar at the top deck which offers 270 degrees of weather independent view. This is also where briefings and lectures take place. There is also a well stocked bar, small library including DVD's. The open bridge policy contributes to the relaxed atmosphere on board.

The dining room is comfortable and spacious enough to accommodate all passengers and expedition staff in one sitting. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style and the dinner is a combination of starters and salad buffet and served main course and desserts. The meals offer choice of fish, meat and vegetarian and special requirements can be taken into account.

Quest exceeds all SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) requirements and is equipped with the latest communication and navigation equipment. There is a total life boat and raft capacity on board for 160 passengers. Comfortable lifejackets are worn throughout all Zodiac trips. For emergency situations Quest has an overcapacity of life vests and the highest grade of immersion suits.

The tap water is drinkable and tastes very good. All fresh water is produced on board from sea water and the system is oversized, purified and desalinated water is stored in buffer tanks in case the purification system should fail. All sewage is taken care of on board the ship where a 3 stage cleaning system based on the latest technology is utilised so that before the sewage is released into the sea it's pure enough to drink. The remaining waste products are emptied and taken care of by special vehicles or ships when the ship is in port.

All rubbish created on board is sorted and whatever is recyclable is handed over for recycling while in port after each expedition.

Andy on board

Of course many people run trips to Svalbard so why should you choose to come with Andy. Well for a start his images speak for themselves, with 9 consecutive awards in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He's a good teacher on all levels and will be giving impromptu classes and tutorials on all aspects of photography. But it's his experience on Svalbard that is the main reason to come on this adventure.  He has led 5 trips previously to Svalbard and is much more than just a photo guide. This is his charter (in partnership with ATOL bonded Wildlife & Wilderness) and on board he will be joint expedition leader. He will be working with the captain and the ship's expedition leader each day to ensure that we make the most of the 24 hour daylight at this time of the year.

All of Andy's trips have a very fun element on board and he considers that vital for everyone to have a memorable experience. His passion for Svalbard is infectious and will contribute to your enjoyment of this incredible place.

The Wildlife

Of course where there is ice there are polar bears and we will certainly hope to encounter polar bears in the fjords as we have done on past trips at this time of the year. If the pack ice is far enough south we will also cruise along its edge, marveling at the incredible ice formations and straining our eyes for the sight of a hairy set of paws walking across the ice. At this time of the year though Svalbard is so much more than polar bears and our cruise will be stopping at the wonderful bird and walrus colonies to maximise your Svalbard experience. The bird colonies are teeming with life and walrus tend to hang out on ice floes, lifting a sleepy eye at any ship that passes close by.

Svalbard Explorer is perfect for those who are on their first visit to Svalbard or who want a relaxing 7 day mixed interest trip.


The M/S Quest is a great ship, built really solidly and very stable. Passenger cabins are located on two decks and cabins are priced according to size and location.

All cabins have windows with outside views, individually controlled heating and air-conditioning, private shower and toilet. They are well designed with typical Scandinavian light woods and pleasing colours. All have a desk and power points, they have varying amounts of storage depending on the grade.As an example, here is a picture of the double superior cabin:

And here is the triple / quad cabin:

Prices and Booking

All prices for the trip are based on which cabin you choose:

Cabin Name
Passengers per Cabin
Price in GBP
per person
The cheapest room share, would suit 4 single travelers, bunk beds.
Again with bunk beds.
Two single beds side by side
Twin Superior
More space and a seating area over the Twin
A double bed
Double Superior
A bigger bed, more space and a seating area
Very spacious, two large picture windows at the top of the ship
Single Use of Twin

The cost does not include flights at this stage as SAS have yet to publish their 2013 schedules. Nearer the time we will be booking a group flight, cost approximately £500 return from London Heathrow. As an ATOL 6330 bonded tour operator Wildlife & Wilderness will handle all of your flight arrangements and will be in contact when the flight schedules are published. Connections from all UK airports are available and will be advised on request.

The flight schedule may mean that an additional night is also required in either Oslo or Longyearbyen, the latter being far more likely. Should this be necessary we will advise you of the cost at booking time.

The deposit will be £1500 per person, which is totally non-refundable. A full set of terms and conditions will be sent on booking.

Further Information and Booking

We have written a full brochure for this trip with all the information that you will need including all of the cabin configurations. Simply click here to download it.

If though in the meantime you have enough information to book your place then please click here to contact us and reserve your preferred cabin.

It is going to be an incredible trip and we look forward to taking you on the journey of a lifetime to the frozen north.....

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